Jockey Rosie Napravnik is in the midst of her first full meet at Churchill Downs, but will take a break from riding beneath the Twin Spires this weekend to head to Pimlico Race Course, where she achieved her first victory nearly eight years ago.
Napravnik, who turned 25 in February, is named on eight horses today (Friday) and five horses Saturday, highlighted by Mylute in the $1 million Preakness (Grade I), the second jewel of racing’s Triple Crown.
Saturday will mark one year since Napravnik’s last race at Pimlico, when she guided Wildcat’s Smile to a third-place finish in the Black-Eyed Susan (GII). In 2006, Napravnik swept the rider standings at all four meets at Pimlico and Laurel and finished second behind Julien Leparoux in the voting for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey.
“It would mean a lot to me (to win the Preakness) because it’s where I started,” Napravnik said. “I have a lot of friends and family there, and there are lots of people there who really got me started in my career. I’m very proud to go ride in the race and, if we could win, it would be even sweeter.”
Mylute enters the Preakness off a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) under Napravnik. It was the best finish ever in the Run for the Roses by a female jockey.
“I think he should improve off his race in the Derby,” Napravnik said. “He ran a great race that day. Hopefully we can get a good trip on Saturday.”
Napravnik left for Baltimore on Thursday night shortly after picking up her 12th win of the meet aboard Galloping Domino. She enters Friday ranked third in the Churchill Downs jockey standings behind Shaun Bridgmohan and Joel Rosario.
“The meet has been great,” Napravnik said. “I’ve done pretty well and made some new connections.”
Despite this being her first meet, Napravnik already has become quite popular with the fans. Rarely does she make it back to the Jockeys’ Room after a race without signing a few autographs and posing for a couple of pictures. Win or lose, fans line up after nearly every one of her races to meet her.
“It can get overwhelming at times when you’re busy and in a hurry, but it’s great,” Napravnik said. “I love to see people excited about the game. We (jockeys) try to do all we can and sign every autograph and give out a pair of goggles every now and then.”
Win or lose on Saturday, Napravnik won’t be hanging around Baltimore too long after the races. She is named on seven horses at Churchill Downs on Sunday, including Horned Frog in the first race. Post time for the first race Sunday is 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern).
THIS WEEK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Friday, May 17
- 11 races from 2:45-7:54 p.m. (Gates 1:30 p.m.)
- Feature (Race 4 at 4:18 p.m.): $57,000 alw, 3 & up, 6 F
- City’s Best Happy Hour! & Food Truck Fridays. Drink specials ($2 Budweiser/Bud Light; $3 Stella Artois; $4 14 Hands Blackberry Sangria), food trucks (Booty’s Diner, Eat Beat, Genius in a Box & Louisville Dessert Truck) & live music (Wax Factory) in The Plaza from 4-7 p.m.
- Advance Preakness Stakes Wagering
- Pimlico All-Stakes $250,000 Pick 4 (Pim 9-12, 4:16 p.m.)
- $1 Pimlico Special/Preakness Double (Pim 12 at 5:52 p.m.)
Saturday, May 18
- 11 races from 12:45-6 p.m. (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
- Preakness Stakes Simulcast (Pim 12 at 6:20 p.m.)
- Pimlico Early $350,000 Pick 4 (Pim 5-8, 1:09 p.m.)
- Pimlico Late $1.5 million Pick 4 (Pim 9-12, 4 p.m.)
- Feature (Race 10 at 5:30 p.m.): $65,000-added Keertana, f & m, 1 3/8 M (T)
- Preakness NBC Viewing Party in The Plaza starts at 4:30 p.m. (NBC video & audio will be shown on video board in The Plaza)
- Last call for drinks on Saturday will be “Call to the Post” for the Preakness.
Sunday, May 19
- 10 races from 12:45-5:29 p.m. (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
- Feature (Race 4 at 2:19 p.m.): $54,000 alw/opt clm, f & m, 1 1/8 M (T)
- Family Fun Days Presented by Kroger on The Plaza Balcony from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Games, crafts, entertainment & Churchill Charlie appearance. This week there’ll be a Petting Zoo in The Plaza (rabbits, chickens, ducks, sheep, goats, alpacas, a miniature horse and a miniature donkey) courtesy of Honey Hill Farms.
PREAKNESS VIEWING PARTY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
The Preakness Stakes simulcast is scheduled for 6:20 p.m. and the Preakness NBC Viewing Party in the Plaza starts at 4:30 p.m. NBC video and audio will be shown on the video board in The Plaza.
Pimlico’s $1.5 million-guaranteed Late Pick 4 begins with Race 9 at 4 p.m. Last call for drinks on Saturday will be “Call to the Post” for the Preakness.
The final race for Churchill Downs’ 11-race card is 6 p.m.
CALVIN BOREL DAY AT OLD FRIENDS SET FOR MONDAY
Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, Ky. will host “Calvin Borel Day at Old Friends” on Monday and fans will have the opportunity to meet the three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey who was recently elected to Racing’s Hall of Fame.
Borel will be available to sign autographs and take pictures with fans from 1-4 p.m. He also will visit with Ready’s Rocket, who was retired to Old Friends last year.
Ready’s Rocket won 11 races at Churchill Downs, which is more than any other horse since 1991, when detailed information was gathered by Equibase. Borel was aboard for 10 of those triumphs.
“He’s the kind of horse that made me,” Borel said. “He was consistent and horses that last that long are the ones that make you. They’re the ones that are going to win for you every couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing him again.”
Overall, Ready’s Rocket won 20 of his 74 starts and earned $261,636.
For more information on “Calvin Borel Day at Old Friends,” or to RSVP, call Old Friends at (502) 863-1775 or visit www.oldfriendsequine.org.
CANADIAN HORSE OF THE YEAR UNCAPTURED HEADED SOUTH FOR MATT WINN BID
Following a runner-up effort behind Pyrite Mountain in the Wando at Woodbine as the 2-5 favorite, Uncaptured, 2012 Horse of the Year in Canada, is headed back to Churchill Downs, the site of his two biggest victories.
“He’s on a van right now headed to Churchill,” trainer Mark Casse said. “We’re planning on running him in the Matt Winn.”
The Grade III, $100,000-added Matt Winn for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the main track is scheduled to be run on the Stephen Foster undercard under the lights on Saturday, June 15.
“We’re looking forward to getting him back on dirt,” Casse said. “As long as he trains to our satisfaction, the Matt Winn is the next step.”
Both dirt starts for John Oxley’s Uncaptured came at Churchill Downs. At the 2012 Fall Meet, he completed the Iroquois (GIII) – Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) double. Overall, he has a record of 6-2-0 from 10 starts with earnings of $638,617.
Casse and Oxley teamed to finish second in last year’s Matt Winn with Stealcase, who finished second behind Neck ’n Neck.
FAMILY FUN DAY ON SUNDAY
Churchill Downs will host Family Fun Days Presented by Kroger on Sunday. Kiddos 12 and younger are invited to enjoy games, crafts and visits from Churchill Charlie on the new Plaza Balcony.
Sunday’s activities, which will take place from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m., will be highlighted by a Honey Hill Farms petting zoo in The Plaza. The petting zoo will include approximately 15 animals, including rabbits, chickens, ducks, sheep, goats, alpacas, a miniature horse and a miniature donkey.
Believe You Can, winner of the 2012 Kentucky Oaks (GI) and most recently third in the La Troienne (GII) on May 3, breezed five furlongs over the fast main track at Churchill Downs in :59.60 for trainer Larry Jones. It was the fastest work of 22 at the distance.
“Everything seems really good,” Jones said. “As of right now, she’s headed to the Ogden Phipps (GI at Belmont on May 27).”
Jones added that Santa Margarita (GI) winner Joyful Victory also is scheduled to run in the Ogden Phipps. Joyful Victory breezed five furlongs in :59.80 at Churchill Downs on May 15. It was the second fastest work of 31 at the distance.
DOWN THE STRETCH
Miz Ida, runner-up to Exclusive Love in a May 12 allowance race at Churchill Downs, is being pointed toward the $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) on June 8, according to trainer Steve Margolis. Her race on May 12 was her first since finishing fifth in the Mrs. Revere (GII) at Churchill Downs in November.
Trainer Pat Byrne said he plans to work Alysheba (GII) winner Take Charge Indy an “easy three-eighths” at Churchill Downs on Saturday at 6 a.m. He is targeting the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) on June 15.
Nominations for the 25th running of the $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs on the main track close Saturday.
Weights for the 76th running of the $100,000-added Louisville Handicap (GIII) are to be announced Saturday. The Louisville Handicap is scheduled to be run at 1 ½ miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course on May 25.